Guest Post by Josh Homeschool posts are back! Josh still has not finished his real defense of homeschooling post, but he was good enough to give his view of mistakes commonly made by homeschoolers. And all the previous disclaimers apply, plus it is just silly to be offended since this is coming from someone who not only was homeschooled, but is pro-homeschooling.
I loved homeschooling as a child/teen. I still love homeschooling. But when you’ve been in and around the homeschooling movement for 20 years, you tend to notice the mistakes which are repeated over and over again. Since I’d much rather parents figure out that something is wrong within a year or two than when their kids are finished with school, here’s my list of mistakes to avoid.
1. A lack of stability and regularity. The flexibility afforded by homeschooling is great, but it is also an easy trap which can result in insecurity and deprive children of the repetition and ritual which is crucial for learning. Regularity is not the same thing as regimentation! But everyone, especially children, needs some basic patterns in their life. If you do not have regularity and stability then you do not have an effective learning environment.
2. Neglecting subjects in areas of parental weakness. It may not even be that the parent is actually weak, just that they don’t spend time communicating it to their children. It is great if you think that literature is the most wondrous thing on earth. Your children still need to learn science.
3. Going it alone. Not getting help when you’re having academic or familial problems is just stupid. And you are going to have problems. For academic issues, a tutor or co-op teacher can be a godsend. And for family issues, counseling is highly recommended. (Whether it is formal or not.)
4. Treating your children like they are little geniuses. Just because your children are gloriously smart does not mean you have to treat them that way. Homeschooling can very easily produce children who are smart in one area and don’t know much about anything else. The fact that they constantly impress you with how smart they are does not mean that they have a well-balanced education. And even if they are amazingly brilliant, you should be careful not to foster a sense of academic arrogance.
(Yes, I was the annoying homeschooled teenager who knew the answer to all the world’s problems if they’d only listen to me.)
5. Freaking out if your children are a little slower than normal in some subjects. Some children simply need more time with some subjects. Freaking out at anything less than perfection can compound problems and even create problems where none actually existed.
6. Not freaking out when your children are way behind. At some point it becomes very difficult to make up for lost time. You are not doing your 11-year-old son a favor by simply giving him more time to learn to read “when he is ready.”
7. Not having both parents teaching. If at all possible, you should try to give your children the benefit of both parents’ experience and expertise. Too many times I’ve seen a dad who was brilliant at math but didn’t communicate any of that to his children because homeschooling was the mother’s job. And beyond subject areas, parents tend to have different teaching styles and ways of thinking. You want to be offering both approaches so that you have a better chance of education “clicking” with your child.
8. Failing to distinguish between the learning styles of the multiple children. Even though “individualized education” is one of the most touted benefits of homeschooling, many homeschoolers don’t adjust their teaching styles and give all children same treatment. So parents get to teach with their unique teaching style, but the children are not accommodated with their individual learning styles.
9. Failing to prepare your children for higher education. In order to prepare children for the rest of their lives they should know how to deal with large classes where they are not the center of attention. They will even have to learn how to live without a teacher who is single-mindedly focused on making sure they turn things in on time, or else does not care at all about deadlines. Homeschool graduates are notorious for having no respect for teaching authority and refusing to complete assignments in the way required by professors.
(Yes, that’s me again. But what the professor was asking for was stupid!)
10. Lack of socialization. The issue isn’t that the kids don’t have plenty of activities, it is a problem of environment. Homeschool parents are far too easily tempted to know everything and control everything about their children’s social activities. Children need time to socialize on their own terms without parents around, even in the next room of the co-op.
- I am thankful 8/29/2010
- I am thankful 9/5/2010